“Coastal Bears of Alaska” trip report

I arrived back home yesterday from my annual “Coastal Bears of Alaska” photo tour conducting in beautiful Lake Clark National Park.   I scheduled this years tour to coincide with the silver salmon run.  Images of fishing bears was high on the agenda. As is often the case in Alaska we dealt with some bad weather.   Not surprisingly we had rain to contend with on a few days but  what  was unusual this years was the high winds we had to endure.  On Labor Day we had winds gusting to 80 mph which is hurricane force. 

Canon 1Dmk4, EF500mm F4 IS, ISO 320, 1/2500 @ F4.5

Canon Eos 1Dmk4, EF500mm F4 IS, ISO 320, 1/2500 @ F4.5

At this location the stream empties into Cook Inlet and the bears fish the shallows when the tides are right.  There is no waterfalls to concentrate the bears as at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park or the McNeil River Reserve neither of which are very far from this location.  What is great for photography about this setting is the bears chasing the salmon through the shallows providing the photographer dramatic action images.

Canon Eos 1Dmk4,  EF 500mm F4IS, ISO 400, 1/640 @ F4

Different locations on the stream were good for fishing at various levels of the tide and we’d position ourselves at the best spot to photograph the fishing bears.  As hard as we tried we never captured a bear catching a salmon right in front of us.  Well there’s always next year for that image but we had some exciting photography for sure.

Canon Eos 1Dmk4, EF500mm F4IS, ISO 400, 1/640 @ F4

On Monday we suffered through the most miserable weather of the trip with rain and hurricane force winds.  Only one bear was brave enough to fish at the mouth of the creek where the winds were fierce.  Our hardy photo group spent 3 hours in those horrible conditions enduring stinging blowing sand and we came away with some very unique bear images.  I want to give my participants high praise for toughing it out!

Canon Eos 1Dmk4, EF500mm F4IS, ISO 640, 1/1600 @ F4

Canon Eos 1Dmk4, EF500mm F4IS, ISO 640, 1/1600 @ F4

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